12 perfect gifts for adults who love science

Stumped trying to find a memorable gift for the science lover in your life? We got you covered with this gift guide to blow their socks off - no socks featured.

We all know someone with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. From physics to computer science, biology and chemistry, there’s almost too much choice when it comes to picking a Christmas present for an adult who loves science (yes, even your kid's science teacher).

Sure the kids get lots of fun stuff (think of the chemistry sets and the toy dinosaurs!), but us grown-ups can also have our pick of cool and unique goodies.

We curated a handy list of our favourite science-themed gifts for adults – from items under £5 to the ultimate luxury present for the science lover in your life.

1. Mary Anning Rocks t-shirt

Mary Anning (aka the ‘Mother of Palaeontology’) is a figure that history has long overlooked. It’s only in recent years that her contributions to science have gained public attention, so much so that there will soon be a statue of her (and her loyal dog, Tray) in her hometown of Lyme Regis in Dorset.

The group that campaigned for the statue, Mary Anning Rocks, sells cool palaeontology and geology-themed apparel. We love this Joy Division inspired one – who said dinosaurs and post-punk don’t go together?

Get it for £19 and help support their educational activities. Shop here

  • A man wearing a red Mary Anning rocks t-shirt, featuring a design inspired by Joy Division with a fun pun: Unknown Pleiosaurus!

    Credit: Mary Anning Rocks

2.      Genuine decommissioned Tube phone

Find us a person who doesn’t love trains. We dare you. Trains touch so many areas of engineering, planning and mathematics – and, at least in London, they come with snazzy prints on the seats. What’s not to love?

This phone was used by Tube drivers to communicate while on the job. The handset could be directly connected to bare wiring along the tunnel walls.

This collector’s piece may not connect to the phone line anymore, but it's sure to be a conversation starter.

You can find it on the London Transport Museum for £40. Shop here

  • A black telephone receiver in an orange zip bag, with metal connectors

    Credit: London Transport Museum

3. NEW Ri t-shirts

Don your science-y apparel with a selection of brand-new designs inspired by the CHRISTMAS LECTURES and the 200+ years of science heritage at the Ri. Prices range from £3 to £40. Shop here

  • A child and a woman wearing Ri t-shirts. The child's says

    Credit: Royal Institution

4. Badass science lady’ sticker

 Make your laptop, tablet or notebook stand out with this hand-drawn statement sticker. Each letter is decorated with tiny intricate designs inspired by the sciences: from computer chipboards to bacteria.

Only £2 on CuriousOctoDesigns. Shop here

  • Orange and red notebooks decorated with the Badass Science Lady sticker

    Credit: Hana, CuriousOctoDesigns

5. Tantrix tabletop game

A stimulating pastime for a maths nerd…or a family of maths nerds! This game can be played solo or in groups. Each hexagonal tile contains squiggly lines in various colours, and it’s the player’s task to connect them to form a perfect loop in a given colour. An exciting mix of skill and chance!

Available from MathsGear for £24.77. Shop here

  • The Tantrix tabletop game has black hexagonal tiles with colourful squiggly lines

    Credit: MathsGear

6. Rutherford and Fry’s Complete Guide to Absolutely Everything (Abridged)

This book is crammed full of tales of how stuff really works.

With the power of science, Rutherford and Fry show us how to bypass our monkey-brains, taking us on a journey from the origin of time and space, via planets, galaxies, evolution, the dinosaurs, all the way into our minds, and wrestling with some truly head-scratching questions that only science can answer: What is time, and where does it come from? Why are animals the size and shape they are? Why nothing is truly round? And many more!

The launch of Adam and Hannah’s book was so popular; it was our first sold-out event since reopening our Theatre in 2021.

Get your copy on Amazon (£10.59 hardcover). Shop here

The Royal Institution is part of the Amazon Affiliate Programme and the link to this item is an affiliate link, which means it won't cost you any extra but we may earn a small commission if you decide to purchase through the link. All proceeds help support the charitable work of the Ri. Affiliate disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate The Royal Institution earns from qualifying purchases.

  • Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford

    Credit: Penguin Random House

7. Mirror Rubik's Cube

It’s a Rubik’s puzzle. With shiny chrome sides, this is the Robocop of puzzles.

This item was handpicked by our computer science Masterclasses volunteer Cyrille, who can solve a traditional Rubik’s cube in under 30 seconds – the fella really knows his puzzles. He says: “this cube looks really intimidating but it’s actually relatively easy to solve, making it a great dinner party trick. It changes shape as you move it, which looks really cool”.

This is recommended for ages 8+, but it’s sure to get adults scratching their heads too.

Get it from The Entertainer for £8.50. Shop here

  • A Rubik's cube with odd shapes and chrome sides

    Credit: The Entertainer

8. Give the gift of science: Ri Membership

What’s better for the constantly curious and the inquisitive minds than access to the world’s leading scientists?

Ri Members enjoy year-round benefits including better-than-half-price tickets for lectures spanning physics, chemistry, palaeontology, anthropology, astronomy, quantum physics, biology and so much more. Plus, they gain access to exclusive events and the coveted CHRISTMAS LECTURES annual ticket ballot. Membership starts at £30 for children and £77 for adults. 

Find out more on our Membership portal

  • Saiful Islam during his Christmas Lectures, with a BIG flame

    Credit: Paul Wilkinson

9. Chemistry Pride pin

Pride flag, but make it STEM: we present you the Pride test tube rack. A fantastic stocking filler for someone who would love a unique and quirky pin badge, these pins make a colourful accent for a lab coat or a lanyard.

Available from ProudScience for £6.99. Shop here

  • Colourful test tubes arranged in the Pride flag colours

    Credit: ProudScience


Encased within exquisite hardback covers, these three books bring together the most interesting and fascinating parts from CHRISTMAS LECTURES past: space and time, life on Earth, and the human mind. 

Available for £4.99 at various retailers. Shop here

  • A red book in a Christmas Tree. 10 Voyages through the human mind

    Credit: Royal Institution

11. Levitating strobe pen

Defy gravity with this mesmerizing pen and magnetic holder set. This is the coolest stationery could ever get – we checked.

Available from Curious Minds at £14.19. Shop here

  • A black and white magnetic pen, levitating on a black rest

    Credit: Curious Minds

12. Write your name in history: name a seat in the Ri Theatre

The ultimate luxury gift for a science lover. To celebrate 200 years since Faraday’s invention of the electric motor right here at the Ri, we are offering you the opportunity to name one of the seats in the iconic theatre where Faraday himself delivered countless lectures. All donations will go towards funding our charitable work. Donations start at £300. Find out more here

  • The iconic magenta seats in the Ri Lecture Theatre

    Credit: Royal Institution

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The 2021 CHRISTMAS LECTURES are airing on BBC Four at 8pm on 28, 29 and 30 December.

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